FIREFIGHTERS from four Manitoba communities joined forces early Tuesday morning to battle a blaze that ravaged the Knysh Funeral Chapel in Beausejour.
The fire in the two-storey building caused an estimated $1 million in damage.
Firefighters from Beausejour, Anola, East Selkirk and Lac du Bonnet battled the fire, which began about 12:30 a.m. They contended with a wind chill of -36 as they worked for more than five hours to extinguish the fire.
No one was in the building at the time and no one was injured. There were no bodies inside the funeral home at the time.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Miles Hiebert said the cause of the fire was not yet known. The provincial fire commissioner's office is investigating.
"Before we were even on scene, it (the fire) had broken through the roof so there was some pretty major flame there for a while," Jamie Kines, the Beausejour fire chief, said in an interview.
"We had good response from the other fire departments considering it was the middle of the night. They were here pretty quick. We needed it. We needed relief in the cold -- guys were frozen. I've got about three inches of frozen stuff around the bottom of my pant legs. We had guys that had to go back and change gear because it was frozen solid."
Owner Mike Knysh said parts of the roof had collapsed and damage to the building was extensive.
"It's quite bad," an emotional Knysh said over the phone from the scene. He and his wife Sheryl, who also own a Winnipeg funeral home, have owned the Beausejour building since 2010. "There's nobody hurt so that's the good thing."
Beausejour is located about 45 kilometres east of Winnipeg off Highway 44. It has a population of about 2,800 people.